Despite what you once thought, your parents’ pockets are not endless – many students are left to foot most, if not all, of their own post-secondary education costs.
If scholarships, bursaries and financial aid still leave you scrounging for more, there just might be another option. Toronto startup Scolaris.ca allows students to “crowdfund” to assist with their education costs.
Scolaris founder Mark Mauleesan says the idea behind this website is to help with the cost of rising education. “Tuition is rising, student debt is rising and there’s got to be a way to make this easier to deal with,” he says.
How Scolaris works
Any student in high school or an accredited post-secondary institution can create a profile. In order to begin a fundraising campaign, you must provide proof of academic enrollment. This ensures donor money is going toward a legitimate cause.
Students can create a sort of “academic timeline” in order to keep donors aware of what their money is going toward. Your profile should showcase what your goals are, which courses you are taking and what activities you are involved in.
“If you hold back when it comes to creating your profile, you’re not going to see much of a result,” Mark warns. “The more full your portfolio looks, the more impressive it looks in the eyes of the donor.”
Once these profiles are approved by Scolaris, they are posted publicly and funds can start coming in.
Make your profile stand out
Although most donors will be people you know somehow, you can get donations from people who have stumbled upon your profile and believe in what you’re doing. Therefore, it’s essential that you put a lot of time and effort into making your profile stand out.
“I always tell people to think about that movie Legally Blonde,” Mark says. “She made a video that showcased her personality and it definitely made her get noticed.”
By making a profile that shows who you really are, a random donor is more likely to feel connected to you and give you a donation.
Breaking down the cash flow
When donors visit a profile, they click the “Donate” button. PayPal processes all transactions and deposits them into Scolaris’ business account. In order to have your tuition or student loan paid with the funds you’ve raised on Scolaris, you’ll be required to send or upload documentation, such as an invoice, for the Scolaris team to verify. This acts as another security measure, ensuring all money is tracked and students aren’t simply dropping out of school and running away to Rome with their fundraised cash. Scolaris sends the funds directly to your school or bank on your behalf, so don’t get any ideas!
What about fees? 4% of each dollar raised goes to PayPal to cover transaction fees and another 4% goes to Scolaris to cover things such as maintenance costs. Therefore, if your aunt wants to throw you $100, you’ll receive the full $100 and she will be charged an additional $8 on top of that.
“If you are blessed with the means of affording an education, this obviously won’t be your thing. But if you are working hard in school and digging around for money, you might as well try and get as much free money as you can,” Mark says.
That’s the whole concept behind crowdfunding: donating money for free without getting anything back simply because you believe in the cause. “Scolaris is not the solution to paying for your schooling,” Mark says, “but it is an alternative – another flavour in the mix that you can try. Even if you get $500 out of it, that’s $500 less you have to pay back on a loan with added interest.”
Would you ever consider crowdfunding your education?
Let us know in the comments section below!